I’m exhausted and want to go to sleep because I had a long day. I just can’t because before my eyes lies a letter, a decision from the German government, not to grant asylum to a former pupil of mine who turned 18 in April. Sure enough, eight days later (8, huit, ACHT.), the German government participated to the celebrations by sending a letter in 6 points, stating that he doesn’t qualify as a refugee, that his asylum request is refused, as well as the protection status since he turned 18, and that he has 30 days (so until MAY 18th) to leave the country. If not, he will, it is written black on white, be sent back to Afghanistan. A safe country for Afghans but not for, say US citizens. Earlier this year, Germany had to stop deportation due to Afghanistan’s ongoing uncertain situation, as reported here in The Local.
Aziz came to my class a year and a half ago and stayed well over a year (the time imparted to learn German). He hadn’t been to school for a long time beforehand, because Afghanistan is not the safe haven some people want us to believe it is. He came on foot from Kabul. By foot. From. Kabul. He almost died, many times, there and on the way. He worked like a slave in Turkey to pay his UNSAFE (here, here, let’s talk about unsafe, anyone? Europe for example? no, she’s looking the other way, too busy to close the borders and make sure no one enters its sanctity). He has scars all over the parts of his body that I could see in my class, so I couldn’t even imagine the ones I couldn’t see. Or rather yes I could, I just had to look into his eyes to know that this kid had a very good reason to want to leave everything he knew and held dear behind.
Aziz never, once, disturbed my class, eager as he was to get a grasp at German so that he could work here. Any job. ANY job would have been ok for him. He spent the meagre savings he still had and those tiny sums his family sent over to take evening classes on top of ours so that he would learn faster. Because he believed that if he could master German, then surely the German government will see how eager he is to do well here. Because I told him language was the surest weapon to freedom. So the German government is basically proving me and all other teachers to welcome classes a LIAR. I told that kid that he needed that very weapon in case he would find himself into that very precise situation where he is now.
He was always soft spoken, looking around with wary eyes but eventually fitting in and laughing with the others. He never once said anything even when he clearly couldn’t understand German culture and habits and what not. He showed interested, always, in learning all things that could help him settle in. He would often come over to my desk with his homework and ask: “Do you think I could get a job, because I’m not good at school”, and I had to explain to him that here in Europe people had to get educated first before they could claim the right to work. He complied, even if he didn’t see the need. But he always, always, complied. He did everything that was ever asked for him here.
Now I almost regret teaching him at all, because it also means he understands bloody well the cynicism that lies behind the automatically generated letter sent after the timeclock delivered its verdict: it’s 18 year old time, let’s get things in motion: he must be gone in 30 days. Gone, but with the mention “Mit freundlichen Grüßen”.
From Germany, with best wishes.